Workers on 457 visas no longer have to speak English

ENGLISH language requirements for skilled workers to come to Australia on 457 visas are set to be loosened, after Immigration Minister Scott Morrison described them as "an industrial lock-out".

Mr Morrison also said on Wednesday that a government-run inquiry into the scheme had found "no evidence" of widespread rorting of the scheme, despite recent media reports to the contrary.

He said while the government was yet to give a formal response to the inquiry, he would "look favourably" on part deregulation of the scheme.

Mr Morrison also indicated intentions to change income bars from exemption from the scheme should be lifted to $180,000 and changes to English language requirements, which were, in his words, "unnecessarily restrictive".

"There are more practical ways to achieve what is needed here and moving to an averaging system would remove much unnecessary cost and complexity," he said.

His comments were welcomed by the mining industry, which argued misuse of the 457 visa scheme was isolated.

But Labor employment spokesman Brendan O'Connor said that "now is not the time for the government to loosen up the scheme".

He said employers must look locally for employees before they looked overseas; "a concept the Abbott Government simply doesn't seem to get".

Mr Morrison also outlined some early plans to tighten the integrity and enforcement of the 457 visa system, but would wait until the government had formed an official response to the panel inquiry.



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